Serious Sam 2: #MaybeInMarch 2021

I first had access to Serious Sam 2 when I was a kid, watching the various adult figures in my life play it on their laptops. As time went on, I grew to enjoy watching them and would often ask to play it for myself. When I was finally allowed to play it for myself, I just sort of… Didn’t. Skip forward about a decade and I discover Serious Sam 2 exists on the Steam store. I purchase the game, open it up to the main menu and then… Don’t play it, for reasons I cannot remember. Two laptops and a new PC later, I see that the game is still in my library, somehow with 88 minutes of playtime, that I cannot remember in the slightest. I ignore it at first, but get wind of the #MaybeInMarch 2021 event set up by laterlevels.com and aceasunder.com, encouraging bloggers to review those games that just sort of sit in their library unplayed for no reason. With this discovery, I finally had what I needed to actually try to play Serious Sam 2.

Serious Sam 2, which was released in 2005, is a game about tiny people telling you to retrieve 5 fragments of an artefact in order to save the universe. I’m not going to pretend that I understood the plot any more than that, mostly because it feels very secondary to the main part of the game.

The main part of the game is blowing stuff up, killing things and any variation of the two. It is a classic first person shoot ’em up that combines elements from the classic Doom games with other elements from the earlier Halo games. Most the combat is heavily Doom inspired, with an emphasis on movement and cycling through a massive arsenal of weapons. Included within these weapons are melee weapons like a giant buzz saw, some really generic weapons like double barrel shotguns, and then absolutely ludicrous-on-toast weapons like a parrot that flies into people with a time bomb, which explodes on contact. As you might have guessed weapon variety isn’t an issue in this game, and new weapons are routinely introduced just as you’ve figured out how to use the one’s you’ve already got, all at an appropriate pace. The influence of Halo shines through the vehicle combat, which is my favourite part of the game, wherein you pilot incredibly durable vehicles to mow down hundreds, upon hundreds, upon hundreds of enemies. While in vehicles you can’t lose health or armour, but your vehicle can. Resultingly, being in a vehicle is essentially a temporary god-mode wherein you have massive damage output and can’t take damage until the vehicle is destroyed.

However, the weapons aren’t the only completely bananas ideas going on in this game; Perhaps the most bizarre thing about it is the enemies. Let me set the stage for you: The first level of the game takes place on a primitive planet full of blue tribal people who are your friends. The first enemies you encounter are green men in space suits with laser guns. The impression you’re given is that this might be a game about a technologically superior race bullying lesser developed planets (You would be wrong). But the next enemy variant you fight is a giant shirtless human in a Viking helmet who throws axes at you. Then the next enemy type is a bunch of albino cavemen holding wooden clubs and shields. Then there’s the exploding green alien dogs. Then there’s the giant, lightning ball shooting biped monsters. Then there’s zombies in tuxedos who have shotguns. Then there’s albino cavemen with miniguns. Then there’s clockwork boars that suicide bomb you. Then there’s actual demons from hell with rocket launcher arms. Then there’s two legged dogs with sharp teeth. Then there’s giant mechanical spiders that shoot lasers. Then there’s-

Look, you get the picture. All of that is just in the first world of the game, on the way to retrieve the first of the five pieces of that artefact. It goes without saying that the developers had absolutely no filter when creating enemies for this game that would be either logically or thematically appropriate, and the result is a big pile of bonkers nonsense. That might sound like a bad thing, but I actually kind of love it; The game is so unapologetically weird and out-there, more concerned with just being what it wants to be than what it should be, that it’s hard to criticise. Sure, all these enemies technically make no sense being together, but they each provide the game with a unique bizarre-o identify and enough charm that you’ll find yourself easily able to look past it. In fact the only thing more overwhelming than the enemy types is the amount of them that get thrown at you all at once. This game isn’t messing around, and therefore will not hesitate to throw hundreds of enemies at you right off the bat.

A final thing worth mentioning is this game’s strange sense of humour wherein Sam really doesn’t seem to either know or care what the hell is happening around him, and I can’t tell if it was intentional or down to the so-bad-it’s-good voice acting for Sam. He will routinely get side tracked – once by partying with a bunch of tribals he saved and getting drunk out of his mind after playing limbo and jumping over their firepit. Other times he is just stupid like when he’s looking for a prison and doesn’t notice the giant glowing arrows positioned above abuilding that are directing him to it. On top of this there is some fourth wall breaking humour, like when Sam’s blue female AI companion (Who isn’t a knockoff of Cortana) says she has a voice actor because the game has a bigger budget than the first one did.

While I welcomed the game’s warped sense of humour and enjoyed it for a time, I was unable to progress past the first world because I felt so exhausted while playing it. Sections that had once been easy became hard for me, and I ended up making stupid mistakes. Unlike the modern DOOM games that give you a lot of elements to juggle on top of the ludicrous combat, Serious Sam 2 has nothing except for ludicrous combat.

In conclusion nothing about this game is normal. Nothing about this game is particularly conventional. It’s just odd. Very, very odd. What it also is, however, is unique, occasionally funny and a good time. I wouldn’t say it’s anything particularly special, but fans of Serious Sam do hold this game above all of the others so perhaps people more versed than myself in the franchise could provide more enlightenment. I would only recommend this game if you are into classic shooters, don’t mind the weird sense of humour, and can get on board with fighting hundreds upon hundreds of enemies at the same time.

This has been my #MaybeInMarch and I’m happy to have finally played some of Serious Sam 2.

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